Moore MP Shane Love MLA has slammed the McGowan Government’s move to seize a 17 percent commercial stake in WA’s western rock lobster fishery.
Mr Love said the government’s actions to increase the total annual catch from 6,300 tonnes to 8,000 tonnes, but retain ownership of 1,385 tonnes of WA’s annual lobster catch, was a direct attack on the property rights of the WA fishing industry.
“We have an industry that prides itself on sustainability and we have a Fisheries Minister dictating terms and conditions to fishers and grabbing a chunk of the resource that underpins the equity of their business,” Mr Love said. “Commercial fishers are stunned because the Government has acted unilaterally and refused to negotiate before taking this extraordinary decision.”
Mr Love said Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly had a lot to answer for amid revelations a terms sheet outlining the new agreement was only made available to the peak industry body three hours before a decision was required.
“The Western Rock Lobster Council claim they had little option but to accept the Minister’s terms with the threat that an industry funding package would be scrapped if they didn’t sign,” he said. “The Minister then had the audacity to put in his press release that the council had “agreed” to the package.”
Mr Love attended an industry meeting in Dongara today.
“The Western Rock Lobster Council consistently, repeatedly and forcefully rejected the Government’s position,” Mr Love said. “I am told the council provided detailed arguments to demonstrate how such a move would destroy confidence, undermine commercial markets and jeopardise future investment in the industry.
“The council even provided alternative models which, they claim, would have provided the Government with a higher financial return without their extraordinary intervention to take ownership of the fishery.”
Mr Love said the McGowan government’s actions were concerning not only for the rock lobster industry, but the entire commercial fishing sector.
“The Nationals team and I will be taking this matter up with the McGowan government on behalf of my constituents who are the backbone of the industry,” he added.